Thursday, November 29, 2007

Championship Game of the Week

This year for game of the week we have three judges, all ranking their top five games. For the postseason the judges will be ranking fewer games as there are less to choose from. The games are then given anywhere from one to five points, based on these rankings, and whichever game receives the most points wins the award. Also note that this year the winner each week will receive a $100 bonus prize. Our three judges are: IM Greg Shahade, NM Arun Sharma, and Jonathan Hilton. Click here for more details.


1st Place: SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM Davorin Kuljasevic (DAL) 1-0

Greg Shahade: I felt this was the best game of the night. It was exciting, with an interesting sacrifice in the opening by Kuljasevic. Throughout the game most fans, and the ChessFM commentators felt that Black had the edge and would win, but Jorge did a good job of defending. When he found 27. Qe4 with only 3 minutes on his clock, it was the real turning point of the game. Due to his low clock time many wondered during and after the game whether he saw the mating combination that would follow after 27... Bd5 28. Qxe5 Re7 29. Rxg7 Bxg7 30. Rxg7 Rxg7 31. Qe8# during the game or whether he just luckily stumbled into it. Personally I'd suspect that he saw it, as Jorge is known for his ability to calculate very quickly. The other regulation games had a few too many mistakes and the tiebreak games ... well, although some of them were interesting and dramatic, they were just blitz games after all. (1st place: 1 point)

Arun Sharma: Given that this week was the Finals part of me would really have preferred the Game of the Week victor to be from the winning team (or for one of them to at least share it). However, this game was so much better than any of the other choices that I felt it had to get the nod from me. A very exciting game exactly in the style Sammour-Hasbun has been dominating with all season; playing a somewhat shaky looking opening which seems to offer little chance for advantage but creates a very double edged position, the type where his tactical ability can shine through. After Kuljasevic's 16... Nxe5, the general consensus seemed to be that Kuljasevic had more than adequate compensation for the piece with Sammour-Hasbun's awkwardly placed pieces and open King. Unfortunately for him, as is often the case, it was just a matter of time before Sammour-Hasbun turned on the routine tactical magic which he did with 28. Qxe5!! managing to simplify the game into a fairly simple ending where his material edge shined through and enabled him to knock off the only player in the League who'd had an even better season than himself. Another impressive win from Sammour-Hasbun, though I'm sure he would have liked a team victory to go along with it. But with his 6.5 / 7 record this season, he really demonstrated himself to be a huge force in the League and hopefully he'll be back next season to put on more displays like this and perhaps help lead his team to the victory they are probably going to be craving even more next year. (1st place: 1 point)

Jonathan Hilton: I also considered Sammour-Hasbun – Kuljasevic. It was quite a wild game, but I just felt Black really lost the thread of the position as soon as the players started exchanging blows. a5 from Black a lot earlier (back before the piece sack, even!) would have helped; the piece sacrifice was entertaining, but not truly necessary, as White’s attack was not yet dangerous. (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Sammour-Hasbun vs Kuljasevic: 2 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

1 point (Jon 1): IM Jacek Stopa (DAL) vs SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) 1/2-1/2

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